I Tried Overtone Hair Dye — Here's How It Went

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Lots of women (and men) dye their hair each year — ​​Statista claims 1.06 million Americans used hair coloring products 14 times or more in 2020. But most people probably went with traditional colors (or at least colors found in nature). What about those who want mermaid tresses or pink locks? While most hair salons can deliver the goods, it’s cheaper and (sort of) easier to apply crazy colors at home — and now it’s possible without having to bleach your hair first. I tried Overtone’s purple conditioner for brown hair and here are the results.

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Dyeing hair

What Are Your Options?

Since the trend toward wild hair color has become more mainstream, it’s no longer necessary to skulk around the dark corners of the internet or head to a beauty supply store to get extreme hair color — even Target sells it as do other mainstream retailers. While the choices used to be limited to spray-on colors most people chose to coordinate with their Halloween costumes, colors are now available in semi-permanent versions from Manic Panic, Aura, Lime Crime, Garnier Nutrisse, Splat, Arctic Fox, and Overtone. However, if you’re not eager to bleach your hair or aren’t naturally blonde or silver-haired, even the craziest color may just be hard to see on dark hair.

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Set of different hair color samples

Selecting Hair Color

As far as determining what shade might look best on you (and if you’re not 25 anymore, you might find some colors emphasize aging skin or dark shadows), talk to your hairstylist the next time you get a cut, or consult with one online (some hairstylists will give you some options over Zoom). Once you pick your color, the question becomes which product to pick. For those with light hair, issues of messiness and color bleed (how much dye ends up on your pillowcase and towels) may be the biggest concern. For those with darker hair (and sheets), the issue of how long the color lasts and how bright or subtle it is can be a bigger deal. And if you don’t want crazy colors? Overtone has a Basics collection ranging from golden brown to black.

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Overtone Purple for Brown

What Is Overtone?

Overtone is less a hair dye than a coloring conditioner, depositing color on your tresses as it adds softness. What may also interest people (especially those leery of the chemical processing needed to bleach hair): It’s free of sulfates, parabens, and ammonia. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free and contains avocado oil, aloe vera, shea butter, and botanicals.

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Overtone Hair Dye Application Purple

How Long Does It Last?

If you need to wash your hair daily, you may be disappointed by how quickly your color fades. Expect it to last for about six shampoos. Luckily, Overtone is easy to apply. I also found the daily conditioner helps a lot in keeping your color bright with little effort — you don’t have to sit around for 30 minutes waiting for it to deposit color on your hair.

Overtone Cool Tones

How Much Is It?

It’s not cheap. An 8 oz. coloring conditioner container is about $25, and the daily conditioner (to maintain color between longer treatments with the conditioner) is $14, and there are other products, such as a curl reviver and heat protectant, available on the site and on Amazon. While the price for the two conditioners ($39) is high, depending on the length of your hair, they can last significantly longer than a one-use box of Splat ($9 at Target). I have medium-length hair and usually get at least four uses out of one coloring conditioner container.

Hair colors

How Well Does It Cover Dark Hair?

Since hair colors that are semi-permanent only coat the outer hair shaft and don’t penetrate the core of each strand the way permanent hair dyes do, it’s hard to get very, very bright hair color unless you’re a blonde or have white hair to begin with — and those with black hair can forget about it. That being said, the Overtone conditioners for dark hair do a surprisingly good job. Check out the For Brown Hair section on the website to see photos of real results. Darker colors like blue and purple will be more noticeable than rose gold and pink, so that might influence your choice.

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Overtone Purple Swatch

What I Liked

Before I started using Overtone, I used permanent hair dye, which smelled awful and had a chemical-centric ingredient list a mile long. Overtone seems gentler on my hair and gives me similar results, plus it leaves my hair softer and more conditioned than before I used it. It’s also easy to order online. And if you’re not sure you’re ready to go blue or green? You can also order 2 oz. bottles of conditioner to try out a new shade.

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Overtone sample size

What Could Be Improved

I’ve been using Overtone for a few years (the brand introduced purple for brown hair in 2019), so I don’t have many complaints. I do notice that some of my hair just doesn’t seem to absorb color as well as other sections, but I suspect that has more to do with my own uneven application. I used to have a quibble with shipping, but the coloring conditioner is now available through Amazon (though not all colors), so I can get it delivered next-day. 

Purple Overtone on Hair

Is Overtone Worth It?

I’m a fan — and if you accept that you can’t get hair color as quickly as you could by dropping by a store it’s a not-as-toxic, easy way to give your hair color a boost (it’s also good to plan ahead, since Overtone sometimes has popular colors go temporarily out of stock). While you may get brighter, more lasting results with permanent dye — and by bleaching your hair — if you’re unwilling to take those steps, this is a great alternative.

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